Tuesday, 23 May 2017

BMW PGA Championship 2017 - Wentworth

We roll on to the Europeantour's flagship event this week, the BMW PGA Championship, to be played at the yet again, re-vamped Wentworth. This will also mark the start of the inaugural Rolex Series and therefore carries a purse of $7M. Whether the efforts to get the design of Wentworth right to appease the tour's leading players is down to maintaining this as the so-called flagship event or not remains to be seen, but with a purse of this size we get a stellar field in attendance. Unfortunately, Rory McIlroy, winner here in 2014, will be missing in action as he recovers from the rib injury that flared up again at Sawgrass two weeks ago. Favourtism is therefore handed to Justin Rose ahead of good friend, Henrik Stenson.

Whilst there have been a few changes made to the course in the past twelve months, centred mainly around the greens and fairway bunkers, the course should still reward good ball strikers who find the fairways and greens moreover than those that like to bomb their way around. Down the years we have had some shock winners but in recent times it's fair to say the winners enclosure is becoming a who's who of European golf and I believe the future cream of European golf will prevail once more this week.

Justin Rose goes off favourite but it's hard to get excited about his chances where he last produced a result here worth talking about back in 2012 when runner-up to Luke Donald. Form at the course since hasn't been great, but Rose is a world player now and may just be the type to take on the Rolex Series but he's too short here this week for a bet. So is Stenson, who has struggled to find the form that took him to Open glory last year and he can be dismissed based on loss of form and price.Its the pack just in behind that has my attention and it's very difficult to ignore the chances of Francesco Molinari this week. Yes, we all know Franni doesn't get it done coming down the stretch on Sundays but surely one who keeps knocking on the door will prevail at some point ? The Italian has been very consistent for over 18 months now and Wentworth is a course, just like Sawgrass that he has formidable form on. Sixth at The Players two weeks ago suggest he's comfortable returning to favourite tracks and returning a decent result at this moment in time, and if we are to ignore last year's effort here, we can be excited by the form of 5-7-9-7 in the four years previously. He's been plying his trade namely on the PGA tour this year where he is 11/12 with 4 TOP10s/8 TOP20s. He doesn't usually come in to my outright staking plans but @ 21.00 I'm happy to get involved. Alex Noren & Benny An at slightly bigger prices (22/1 & 25/1) are very appealing but of the three I prefer to side with the Italian this week although An, winner here two years ago is not dismissed lightly.

I've always thought Martin Kaymer would love Wentworth and win here some day and perhaps he will but I will overlook him here in preference to the two English lads, Tommy Fleetwood and Matty Fitzpatrick @ 33/1 & 40/1 respectively. Both are the future of the European Tour and both have started to put their own stamp on big events and will not be here this week looking solely for a big cheque! Fleetwood will be looking forward to the Open at Birkdale this summer as a home event for him and he'll be wanting to take the form right through to July starting here this week in the tour's biggest event. Tee to green, he is ideal for Wentworth despite a mixed bag of results in his 5 visits to date (6th being his best result two years ago). 41st at Sawgrass last time out and beaten in a playoff to Bernd Wiesberger in Shezhen prior to that, Fleetwood arrives rested and in form. He's 5/8 on tour this season with a win (Abu Dhabi) and 4 TOP5s, including a runners up placing behind Dustin Johnson at the WGC in Mexico. Always a good scorer on par-5s, Fleetwood has real chance to add to his title collection this week.

Matt Fitzpatrick arrives with some question marks following poor results of late but there is still some juice in the 40/1 price here. Two missed cuts at Hilton Head and Sawgrass are hardly deterrents for a selecting him here though. A solid Masters performance again at Augusta shouldn't be ignored and indeed results at the aforementioned WGC in Mexico as well as the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill are more encouraging where he posted 13 & 16th finishes. His game is well suited to Wentworth and should the flatstick get hot this week he has a good a chance as anyone this week.

Shane Lowry has form here and indeed should have won in 2014 ahead of Rory. He was on my shortlist of 15 here but given his schedule yet again this year seems to have no real flow to it, perhaps due to new fatherhood duties,and the fact he arrives with little form to ride on, he's omitted from the staking plan. I am hoping Shane's schedule will be focused for the remainder of the year as I fully expect him to win before the year is out.

Staking Plan

1.5 pts e/w F. Molinari @ 21.00
1.5 pts e/w T. Fleetwood @ 34.00
1.5 pts e/w M.Fitzpatrick @ 41.00


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Rocco Forte Open - Verdura Sicily

A slightly "better" field than last week's affair in Portugal move onto Sicily this week for the new Rocco Forte Open to be played at the Kyle Phillips designed Verdura Golf Resort, which hosted the Sicilian Open back in 2012. A picturesque golf course overlooking the Mediterranean Sea has brought a lot of admiration from those attending this if going by all the social media awash with photos and general high praise of the resort. The resort boasts two courses, from which a composite 18 holes will make up this week's Championship course. With just one years course history to go on, we need to factor in what type of player Verdura is most likely to suit and identify if any players have the pedigree to match it or indeed possess form on a Kyle Phillips design.

This blog backed Nicolas Colsaerts to win here back in 2012; he finished 3rd and he immediately jumps off the page again this week @ 35/1. The Belgian has solid form on links courses for which this week's course shares similar traits. Throw in Hilvershume GC in Holland, a Kyle Phillips course that hosted the KLM Open from 2010 to 2012 where he produced two TOP10s to complement decent efforts at The Alfred Dunhill Championships where another Phillips designed course, Kingsbarns, features, then he's bound to be excited to be returning here. He spends quite a bit of time in Mauritius too and practices on windy coastal courses, so he should be comfortable this week despite a loss of form of late where he's just 4/8 events with best finish a 28th in Qatar (windy coastal course). 39th and 42nd in Shenzhen & Beijing last month is encouraging ahead of his return to Sicily this week.

I'm going "third time lucky" with James Morrison here having backed him twice in April in Morocco and Shezhen where he finished 13th & 29th respectively. On both occasions he sat prominently on the leaderboard through 36 holes before slipping back each weekend. It's easy to drop him based on a non-return but he too has shown some solid form on links/windy courses that can't be ignored. Whether he's actually value in the betting can be argued, but I am finding it hard to leave him out even @  22/1. He's 8/9 this season producing 5 TOP20s (2*T10s), arrives fresh and can continue solid recent form with another bold showing here.


Selections:
1.50 pts e/w N. Colsaerts @ 36.00
1.50 pts e/w J. Morrison  @ 23.00